Archive for November, 2011

Editor’s Notebook: 11/30/11

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Happy Last Day of November! Twenty-five more days of Christmas shopping to go … or, rather, twenty-four to think about doing it, regret not having done it and planning to do it again, and one to actually get it done. In my case, Dec. 24.

• Kudos to our own Mike McCormack on his first year organizing our “Parade of Lights” through downtown Norwich Saturday … and thank you to all the many generous businesses, individuals and community organizations who helped us pull it off! (There’s a proper thank you ad in tomorrow’s paper).

• I’d be remiss in not thanking my own staff here – Brian Golden, Julian Kappel and Shawn Magrath – for pulling off yet another spectacular “Delivering Christmas” float for The Evening Sun. No matter who’s on board, I’m always fearful as parade day approaches that we’ll end up embarrassing ourselves publicly. And yet, somehow, through the miracles of Bacardi and duct tape, we always manage to make a good showing. It’s a great team-building exercise, to be sure – I’m forever amazed at what we manage to do when we set our minds to it. Good job, boys.

• Of course it helped that this was also the first year ever in which we were able to build said float outside with nary a jacket, scarf, hat or gloves on. Last year, frostbite; this year, sweat. Thanks, global warming!

• Even though it’s not really beginning to look a lot like Christmas, yet, the City of Norwich and the Business Improvement District will host their annual tree lighting ceremony at 6:30 Thursday night in West Park. Come down to see the Perry Browne kids sing Christmas carols and get into the holiday spirit!

• Speaking of … The Evening Sun is partnering with The North Pole once again to make sure that Santa has the chance to hear from every child in Chenango County. Santa Claus has graciously agreed to allow The Evening Sun to publish some of the letters he receives from local children this year, which we’ll do on Friday, Dec. 16. In order to be published, Letters to Santa must be received no later than Monday, Dec. 12. Letters can be mailed to Santa in care of The Evening Sun, PO Box 151, Norwich NY 13815. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope, and Santa will send a personalized reply to each child! Don’t waste a stamp – Santa’s online at The Evening Sun, too! Letters can be e-mailed to santa@evesun.com.

25 more days…

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

Not to be a hum-bug, but it’s a little despairing to know that there’s still 25 days left until the constant stream of Christmas music comes to a halt. It’s festive with “good holiday cheer” intentions but it’s everywhere I go. It seems that where one Christmas song leaves off on the car radio, it picks up inside the grocery store or over the speakers in the middle of the city. 25 days (600 tedious hours) left of Christmas music.

Worse than the 25 remaining days of Christmas music is the 342 days, 8,212 hours and 492,738 minutes left of presidential campaigning – and I have yet to hear too much from the national media regarding issues that actually matter amongst any of the candidates. I can tell you what flubs came out of Perry’s mouth, the number of women (currently) accusing Cain of sexual indecency and how many times Gingrich has been married but I have no idea what their stance is on education reform, energy policies or how they intend to handle the military.

On the flip side, it’s always encouraging to see community efforts to make a positive social contribution this time of year. Whether its donating to Toys for Tots, giving to a local clothing or food drive or just volunteering man hours at a charitable event, so many people take advantage of the holiday season to do something that positively impacts so many in the community and I applaud that.

My car’s air bag light is on all the time now – just one more thing on a growing list of needed repairs and one more piece of black tape needed to cover up another warning light on the dashboard display. For now, I’ll just take the cheap “glue a pillow to the steering wheel and hope for the best” alternative.

No snow? At least there’s Rudolph!

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
Brian Golden

It’s hard to believe tomorrow will be the first of December and there’s not a flake of snow on the ground, which really doesn’t bother me all that much (what with all the shoveling, scraping, slipping and sliding involved when there is), but I must say I’m hoping for a white Christmas. Then again, a couple more weeks of 50 degree-plus weather wouldn’t bother me a bit. A couple of inches of the fluffy white stuff on Christmas Eve and then right into spring … would also be just fine, thanks.

Speaking of Christmas, I had a chance to sit down with my favorite lady and the kids last night for the annual showing of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” last night, which I consider a must-see as the holiday season kicks into high gear. My favorite character? Yukon Cornelius, of course. “Oh, well, now I’m off to get my life-sustaining supplies: cornmeal and gunpowder and hamhocks and guitar strings …”

Classic.

On a more serious note, I took the liberty of addressing the insane issue of financial disparity between New York State school districts in this week’s column, and I’m hoping it does some good. It’s time for people to really press our state representatives on the inequalities inherent within our state’s educational system and – without a doubt – this is as important an issue as any out there. Smaller, more needy districts such as those in Chenango County are getting the short end of the stick, if you look at the numbers, and this is putting our students at a serious disadvantage. Let’s all work together and see if we can make a difference, our children deserve at least that much.

As for the rest of the week, let’s just say I’m going to be more-than-a-little busy, what with a trio of musical performances (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights) on top of my normal schedule. Which is just fine by me, really, what with Christmas right around the corner (hey, a little extra pocket cash never hurt anyone right around holiday time, right?). After all that, however, I’m looking forward to a nice, relaxing weekend … if such a thing exists. What can I say? So much to do … so little time …

All is not ‘Fine’

Monday, November 28th, 2011
Patrick Newell

The canvas that is my computer screen remained empty after multiple phone calls. I titled my story file earlier today, “Syracuse Reaction.” I had the grand idea of writing an editorial/comment piece in which I asked local residents with Syracuse University ties to step away from the watercooler talk, and express their thoughts on the recent firing of Bernie Fine.
If you’ve had your head in the sand the past few days, three people have come forward and alleged that Fine – an assistant men’s basketball coach at SU for 3 1/2 decades – sexually molested them. Every person I spoke to on Monday declined to comment.
One prominent local citizen quickly answered no when asked if he wanted to speak about the Fine incident on the record. When I asked if he could provide any names of Syracuse graduates, he said he would get back to me.
He didn’t.
Another prominent local businessmen said he “didn’t want to touch that,” when asked to comment about Fine. Knowing I would not divulge his name, this businessman did say the entire situation was “disappointing,” and an “embarrassment.”
Thanks to the media spotlight, police in Onondaga County are now giving the allegations levied against Fine their full attention. When Bobby Davis, one of Fine’s accusers, initially brought his accusations to the legal system – and Syracuse University – he was dismissed by SU, who said they found no one to corroborate Davis’ story. The Syracuse-area police also have no record of Davis reporting a crime.
Now, with evidence mounting and the court of public opinion demanding action, SU fired Fine this past weekend. Meanwhile, the investigation of Fine by Onondaga County police is plowing forward.
Let’s be clear: The probe into Fine’s alleged misdeeds is in the embryonic stage. Down in Pennsylvania, it was a three-year investigation process before former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested. Do not expect anything different in this instance, either.
In reality, the atrocities brought to light at Penn State, in the scheme of things, were nothing more than a “flavor of the month.” It was only a matter of time before the next flavor of the month was revealed. To the shock over every Central New York sports fan, the next headline-grabber has a local flavor.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Happy-ish Black Friday

Friday, November 25th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

Just the term “Black Friday” makes it so unappealing to me.

Everyone loves a good deal, right? I know that’s why the red clearance tag always draws my attention. But how much humiliation are people really willing to endure during Black Friday to get a good deal on toys, gadgets and clothing – even bed sheets and comforters stirred up some angst in a Montana department store last year. This morning, it was reported that pepper spray was used by a consumer trying to drive people out of a check-out line at a store in California and police had to intervene in a fight at the Jewelry Department at a Wal-Mart in Florida (making them Wal-Martyrs?).

Of course, this kind of thing is expected on Black Friday so when I read about it, it leaves little impact on me. In fact, as humiliating as this one shopping day may be to all mankind, I encourage Black Friday. Money spent in the American economy is money that boosts the American economy. To top that, nothing makes me feel better about myself than hearing about two grown men in a fist fight over the last set of bed sheets with a high thread count.

The real problem I have with Black Friday is its gradual consumption of Thanksgiving Day, blending the two days into one annual, stuff your face and your shopping cart event; I don’t remember learning about the pilgrims thankful for 40 percent off black breeches and steeple hats with buckles. Every year, department stores open earlier: 5 a.m., then 4 a.m., now midnight, 10 p.m. or 9 p.m. Thanksgiving evening – some even open through Thanksgiving Day. Is Black Friday overshadowing Thanksgiving? I can barely utter the phrase anymore: “Happy Thanksgi… ooh look, that’s a really good deal.”

Remember the days when you could sleep in until… 4 a.m. before holiday shopping?

Moving away from the topic of Black Friday, the Parade of Lights is Saturday. It sounds like it’s going to be a blast so if you’re looking for something to do this weekend after licking your Black Friday fight wounds, please check it out.

Blog # 100

Friday, November 25th, 2011
Brian Golden

And now, ladies and gentlemen, at long last … my 100th offering as an Evening Sun blogger. What can I say? I’m giddy.

In preparing for this – blog number 100 – I took some time and revisited my past entries, all 99 of them, and it’s remarkable just how much I’ve changed over the course of my employment here at our hometown daily. From “Old dreams with new lives” (my very first blog) to Wednesday’s “A rainy day and a Happy Thanksgiving,” it’s been quite a journey. And as much as I love a good, hard-angle news story, I must admit that writing the occasional blog (not to mention my weekly column) is by far one of my favorite ways to express myself (can’t forget the guitar, now, can we?).

On that note (no pun intended), here’s a quick look back at my Top Ten blogs as an Evening Sun reporter, in no particular order. If you’ve never read any of these, feel free to go back through my blog archive and dig one (or two, or three) up. As always, feel free to let me know what you think and a big thanks to those who’ve enjoyed my random musings, it’s appreciated.

# 10 – “Remembering Dad” December 18, 2009 Sometimes, I find it hard to believe that January will mark four years since dad passed. Then again, there are days when it seems like a lifetime ago. Regardless, I still miss the man dearly, and I like to think he’d be happy with the way things are going in my life. Love you, dad.

#9 – “Happy 30th Empire Strikes Back” April 30, 2010 This was a no-brainer, particularly if those of you reading this are aware of my status as The Evening Sun’s über-geek (well, at least until Julian came along). Frank Oz as Yoda? Brilliant. Boba Fett? Coolest bounty hunter in the history of bounty hunters. By far the best Star Wars movie George Lucas ever produced.

#8 – “Holy Sheep!” May 6, 2010 By far one of my all-time favorite blogs, although I wasn’t too pleased with the incident itself when it occurred. Nonetheless, an extremely humorous take on my near-accident on Pratt Road back in the foggy, early spring of 2010. A definite must-read for those who haven’t had the opportunity.

#7 – “Kids, don’t try this at home” May 12, 2010 I guess I must have been on a good run in May of 2010, considering this blog still makes me laugh when I re-read it. Without giving away too many details, here’s the deal. Element of danger? Check. The “Pratt Road Gang?” Check. A flaming scooter? Check. And a complete re-telling of the Amazingly Stupendous Flaming Scooter incident? Big check.

#6 – “Musical memories at NHS” September 22, 2010 I’m not quite sure what took me so long to address my high school musical years in the world of blog, but it was an obvious, now that I think about it. As always, a big thanks to Mary Mayo and Don Burke for … a) putting up with me … b) teaching me to open up and experience more than just the blues and c) putting up with me.

# – 5 “My Best Friend” September 29, 2010 For obvious reasons … Mr. Tozer. My best friend, musician-in-arms and one of the most down-to-earth, friendly, honest and hard-working people I’ve ever met. Rock on, brother.

# – 4 “A day in the life” December 9, 2010 My tribute to the late, great John Lennon on the 30th anniversary of his untimely death. A true musical, political and poetic genius, if there ever was one. Said Lennon, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Amen to that.

# – 3 “The city smells like what?” April 13, 2011 A blog that goes above and beyond, in my opinion, relating the content of a strange, yet ultimately hilarious e-mail I found creeping around in my inbox one day. Subject line of that particular e-mail? “The Smell of Cat Urine in the City! How exciting!” I laughed until I cried the first time I read it.

# – 2 “Faster than a speeding bullet” June 3, 2011 A blog in which I relate the events of a fateful softball game, one where I was nearly killed by a 200 mph meteor that came off the bat of our team captain. Note to self, you’re probably getting to old to dive around on the softball field like you did when you were 12 … or 20 … or even 30.

# – 1 “A case of the Mondays” July 25, 2011 Looking through all of these old blogs, it’s obvious that I could just as easily type up a Top Twenty, if not a Top Thirty. With that in mind, here’s another favorite of mine, simply because it’s one of those things we all experience from time to time. And – believe it or not – I really do have fond memories of the original Green Machine (of “Holy Sheep” fame), although my new ride is … a definite improvement.

Thanksgiving but no thanks?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Shawn Magrath

With Thanksgiving a day away, I’m a little disappointed to find just how many people fail to recognize their blessings, be what they may.

Every year, it’s custom that the Evening Sun publish a special Thanksgiving edition, featuring people in the community who share what they look forward to this holiday season and what they have to be thankful for. It’s encouraging to hear some praise even the most diminutive, overlooked aspects of life but to my dismay, I found a few people that said they simply have little, if anything at all, to be thankful for – even saying this as they walked toward their car with a cart full of groceries.

How can anyone be able to walk (a blessing in itself) to their car (another one) with a cart full of groceries (???) and tell me “life kind of sucks.” Granted, I don’t know these people but I refuse to believe there aren’t any more perks in their life than they let on. I believe there to be a silver lining in every rain cloud and whether people choose to acknowledge it or not is the factor that determines their gratitude. Perhaps it’s not their life in need of repair; perhaps it’s their perception that needs to be worked over.

On the other hand – the hand holding the glass that’s half full – I was thankful to find other people that were thankful – people that not only realize their good fortune (literally and metaphorically) but people also willing to talk to me and have their picture taken for the paper. I understand that people tend to be a little camera shy so no hard feelings from those that turn and ran the other way. Actually, I was getting used to the rejection; it was like prom all over again.

So, to spite the people who said they have nothing to be thankful for, here are ten small things I have been thankful for so far today (family, friends and freedom are always a given).

1. Just enough milk for one more bowl of cereal
2. A grocery store checkout line opening just as I was getting ready to pay.
3. Warm feet
4. An office chair that swivels
5. Good radio reception (with something other than Christmas music)
6. Fun link designs on the Google home page
7. Seeing eggnog at the convenience store
8. Windshield washer fluid that dissolves frost
9. Spilling something on my shirt that isn’t noticeable
10. The traffic light staying yellow long enough for me to get through

That wasn’t so difficult; I’m thankful and I don’t even own a Bentley.

A rainy day and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Brian Golden

Did somebody say rain? Talk about a continuous deluge last night, I don’t think it stopped pouring for more than five minutes at any given point. Usually, I find the sound quite relaxing but not this time around. Tossed and turned and tried to get back to sleep – unsuccessfully, I might add – for hours last night. Which is probably why I’m so out-of-sorts today.

Well, I finally managed to get caught up a bit over the course of this week, an accomplishment in and of itself, if you ask me (and on deadline, to boot). Looking forward to a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving and all that the holiday entails: food, football, family and … leftovers! As for the rest of the week, my fellow Evening Sun reporters and I (as well as our esteemed editor) will be tackling this year’s Parade of Lights float. What can I say? Last year’s float (and its construction) ranks right up there as one of my favorite Evening Sun memories.

Today’s column was – as always – an absolute blast to put together. The theme? Proverbs, proverbs and … you guessed it … more proverbs. It’s funny, sometimes even I have to ask myself where I come up with this stuff. Regardless, it sure is fun.

I find it hard to believe how many people out there are willing to speak with the press (in other words, me) yet, as soon as you inform them you’re going to have to take their picture, they balk. Putting together our yearly “Giving Thanks” piece is kind of like pulling teeth in that regard. Everybody’s thankful … nobody wants their picture in the paper. What’s up with that?

In a totally unrelated note … favorite headline of the day: Who can you believe at GOP debate? Umm … I’m going to go out on a limb here and say (considering they are politicians) not a single one. Sorry, but I just had to go there.

And with that, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving all!

It’s a beautiful day

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
Brian Golden

Ahh … another gorgeous Tuesday here in Chenango County, although I must admit it was more-than-a-bit chilly when I made my way outside to start the car this morning. And while I’m (still) not looking forward to three-plus months of shoveling, scraping, slipping and sliding, it will be nice to see that first relevant snowfall of the year. What can I say? It’s a great opportunity for some nice pictures and – even though I’m no fan of winter – I enjoy a white Christmas just as much as the next guy.

Once the New Year has come and gone, however, I’d like to see temperatures in the mid-70’s and sunny skies. Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

As for this week’s column, well, I’m having a little trouble getting focused for some reason. Why’s that, you ask? Well, I’m guessing it has to do with the fact that – unbelievably – the holiday season is upon us. Positive points: eggnog (my favorite holiday drink), spending time with loved ones, the occasional extra day off, Thanksgiving (not to mention Christmas) dinner and, of course, presents (both the giving and the receiving). Negative points: the aforementioned snow, long lines at the store, an overabundance of gut-wrenching holiday music and, of course, the dreaded holiday hangover.

You know what I mean … once New Year’s has come and gone it’s really just month after month of drudgery and boredom until that spring weather hits (note to month of April, the sooner you get here the better).

I failed last week to hit the 100 mark in regards to my Evening Sun blog, largely due to the fact that I just didn’t have the time. Today’s offering marks number 98 and – with a little luck – I think I’ll reach the three-digit milestone sometime on Thursday. Not that anyone really cares, of course, but for this intrepid reporter (who still pinches himself every once in awhile, wondering how he got so lucky in landing this job), it’s a noteworthy benchmark.

Not only that, but it also puts me that much closer to fifth-place all-time as an Evening Sun blogger. Just saying.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Nov. 18, 2011

Friday, November 18th, 2011
Patrick Newell

Earlier this week, Alfred State College announced its athletes of the week. Oxford graduate Haley Witchella, a freshman on the women’s basketball team, scored 48 total points, grabbed 26 rebounds, and blocked 10 total shots in a pair of Pioneers wins. Witchella won the first of what will likely be many awards as ASC’s athlete of the week.
A six-foot freshman forward, Witchella hit a game-winning three-pointer in a victory over Cayuga Community College. Heading into this weekend’s games, ASC was unbeaten at 6-0. “Haley, is our one of our post players who can shoot the three and finish in the paint, she has amazing hands and catches the ball in traffic with a strong post presence,” said Alfred State women’s basketball coach, Gina Boyd. “She is a major contributor to the team with her athletic capabilities to handle the ball in the open court and knock down a 20-footer.  She is making a difference on our success as a team, she is a spark plug who is always pushing everyone to do better.  We are lucky she is a part of our Alfred State team.”
Unfortunately for Witchella – and Alfred State – she will miss at least the next three weeks of games after fracturing her foot during a physical education class. “We will make adjustments, but she will be missed,” Boyd said.

Congratulations to the Liberatore family. Three of them, mother and two daughters, recently completed the Boston half marathon together. Sophie, the mom, ran the 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 33 minutes to place sixth in her age group. Tricia Liberatore of Holcomb, Raleigh, N.C. ran the fastest time, a 1 hour, 58 minutes, 28 seconds clocking, and Jill Liberatore of Cambridge, Mass., completed her first half marathon timing 2 hours, 6 minutes, and 13 seconds. A total of 5,192 runners crossed the finish line in the early-October race. All three plan to run more half marathons together in the near future. Tricia Liberatore is a 1996 graduate of Sherburne-Earlville, and Jill Liberatore graduated from S-E in 2001.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat